Arts & Culture

KCUR’s Arts & Culture Desk covers arts news from music to visual art to dance and theater, with a focus on Kansas and Missouri.

Our reporters explore the behind-the-scene stories about newsmakers and emerging artists. We also take a look at the intersections of arts and technology, science and creativity, and present profiles of creative people. 

Pages

Theater/Performance
2:03 pm
Thu May 6, 2010

Kansas City Ballet Closes Season with "Concerto Grosso" and Other Works

Kansas City Ballet dancers Catherine Russell, Charles Martin & Nadia Iozzo in Toni Pimble's "Concerto Grosso."
photo: Steve Wilson

As part of its spring program, the Kansas City Ballet presents two world premieres - including one by choreographer Toni Pimble. Pimble studied at the Royal Academy of Dance, and danced with companies in Germany before co-founding Eugene Ballet Company in Oregon 1978 where she's artistic director.

Read more
Music
8:39 am
Mon April 26, 2010

EIO Explores the Sounds of Unusual Objects

Kansas City's Experimental Instrument Orchestra is a folk band, in which the two members craft their own instruments.

Kansas City, MO – Folk music has always relied on a do-it-yourself philosophy. But Kansas City's Experimental Instrument Orchestra takes the idea to new extremes. They not only improvise music, but also create their own instruments. KCUR's Alex Smith recently spoke with EIO band members Amy Farrand and Mark Smeltzer.

Read more
Music
1:15 pm
Fri April 23, 2010

Opera's Bad Boy, "Don Giovanni," Returns to the Lyric

Baritone Christopher Schaldenbrand as Don Giovanni in the Lyric Opera of Kansas City's production.

The central character in Mozart's "Don Giovanni" is the Don himself, a young nobleman with a list of more than two thousand female conquests. As the opera begins, this ladies' man has assaulted a young noblewoman and killed her father, and he's also trailed by jilted lovers. Don Giovanni's schemes and their consequences will be on display at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.

Read more
Kemper ARTcasts
12:43 pm
Tue April 20, 2010

Kemper ARTcast: Volunteer Choices - Gao Brothers

Find out the reasons why a volunteer chose to display the Gao Brothers' Miss Mao for the exhibition Volunteer Voices: Selections from the Collection of the Kemper Museum.

Read more
Jazz/Blues
10:57 am
Mon April 19, 2010

Playing with the Count Basie Orchestra

Kansas City guitarist Will Matthews has toured and recorded with the Count Basie Orchestra for nearly 15 years, but he's also found time to develop a solo career.

Kansas City, MO – In the 1930's, Kansas City may have served as the jazz capital of the world, but today, you rarely hear the swing music of groups like the Count Basie Orchestra. Count Basie died in 1984, but his band continues to play around the world to audiences craving the classic Basie sound.

Read more
Jazz/Blues
11:01 am
Mon April 12, 2010

Fans Remember Scamps Bass Player Oscar "Lucky" Wesley

Kansas City recently lost one of the pillars of the jazz community. Oscar "Lucky" Wesley died on March 27, 2010, at the age of 82.

Kansas City, MO – Known by all as "Lucky," Wesley was a bass player and vocalist with the Scamps for almost forty years.

Read more
Music
12:35 pm
Fri April 9, 2010

New Classical Recordings

Steve Kraske talks with Kansas City Symphony executive director Frank Byrne about some of the finer CD releases in recent months.

Steve Kraske talks with Kansas City Symphony executive director Frank Byrne about some of the finer CD releases in recent months.

Read more
Jazz/Blues
3:17 pm
Mon April 5, 2010

Interview with Oleta Adams

Photo by Kenneth Hieber, courtesy of oletaadams.com.

One of Kansas City's favorite daughters Oleta Adams was back in town recently for a performance on 18th and Vine.

The singer and songwriter grew up in the Pacific Northwest. She was the daughter of a minister, and a piano prodigy who was directing choirs by the age of eleven.

Read more
KC Currents
2:22 pm
Mon April 5, 2010

Earthquake Transforms Lives Of Stilwell Sisters

Amanda and Natasha Rae Taylor, with their friend Jean Junior Javin. In Amanda's arms is her newly adopted son, Isaac. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, Mo. – Two and a half months after an earthquake devastated Haiti, many people around that country, and the US, found their lives were changed by the disaster.

Sisters Natasha Rae and Amanda Taylor are originally from Stilwell, Kansas. They've made regular mission trips to Haiti over the past 8 years, and were both there, together, when the earthquake hit.

Read more
Kemper ARTcasts
8:53 am
Thu March 25, 2010

Kemper ARTcast: Interview with Artist Ian Davis

Ian Davis Comeuppance, 2009 acrylic on canvas 60 in. x 65 in. (152.4 cm x 165.1 cm)

Kemper Museum curator Barbara O'Brien speaks with artist Ian Davis on his work in the exhibition "Ian Davis: Faith in the Future."

Music: November 3rd by Mara Gibson (b. 1972) | Performed by Sally Todd, piano and Steve Gilewski, bass, SUNY Buffalo, 1999, Buffalo, NY

Kansas City, MO – Ian Davis: Faith in the Future
February 26-June 19, 2010
Kemper at the Crossroads

Read more
Music
3:56 pm
Fri March 19, 2010

Top Music of 2010 (so far) and SXSW

Steve Wilson and Michael Byars play some of their favorite new music of 2010 and highlight a number of Kansas City-area bands showcasing their talent at SXSW.

Note: KCUR is unable to provide an audio archive of today's music segment because of copyright restrictions.

The South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference & Festival wraps up this weekend in Austin, Texas.

This week the SXSW Music and Media Conference is showcasing hundreds of musical acts from around the globe.

Read more
KCUR Arts
8:00 am
Thu March 4, 2010

The Unicorn's "Green Whales" Tackles Tough Subjects with Humor

Actors Vanessa Severo and Anna Safar in "Green Whales."
photo: Cynthia Levin, courtesy of Unicorn Theatre

Though the Unicorn Theater has always been quick to pounce on the most buzzed about plays in New York, it has actually launched many new plays. In fact, a quarter of the shows over the years have had their world premieres in Kansas City. The latest is called "Green Whales," and while it tackles tough subjects in comedic ways, it is giving everyone involved a voice in bringing this new play to fruition.

Read more
Jazz/Blues
11:30 am
Mon March 1, 2010

Anatomy of the Pedal Steel Guitar

One of Russ Wever's pedal steel guitar. Photos by Tim Bridgham / KCUR.

Local musician Russ Wever has been playing the pedal steel guitar for more than forty years. He's performed at the Grand Ole Opry and on Broadway, and has had a big influence in the pedal steel guitar world.

Kansas City, MO – When you see a pedal steel guitar it doesn't look much like a guitar. Laid out horizontally, the pedal steel has two necks and a lot of foot pedals and knee levers. Though its roots come from the guitar, this version of the instrument has the ability to do much more.

Read more
Music
2:39 pm
Fri February 26, 2010

WEB EXTRA: Composer Zhou Long on Cultural Revolution

"Class of 1978," members of the first class at the Central Conservatory in Beijing.

As a teenager during the Cultural Revolution in China, composer Zhou Long was sent from his home in Beijing to work on a rural state farm. Here, he talks about the experience.

Read more
Music
11:31 am
Thu February 25, 2010

Production of "Madame White Snake" Marks First Opera by UMKC Composer

The thousand-year-old Chinese folk tale, "Madame White Snake," is the story of a white snake demon who longs for love. And there are tragic consequences. It's the subject of the first opera for composer and UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance professor Zhou Long. In the production, elements of traditional Chinese opera meet the style of the West.

Kansas City, MO –

Read more
Jazz/Blues
11:36 am
Mon February 22, 2010

Jazz Singer Angela Hagenbach Releases New Album

Kansas City's Angela Hagenbach talks about the music business and her new album.

Read more
Theater/Performance
3:12 pm
Thu February 18, 2010

KCAI Alum Nick Cave's Soundsuits

Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2005 Found sequined and beaded materials, hand sewn, mixed media, mannequin and armature 100 x 26 x 14"
courtesy of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art

The Kansas City Art Institute includes a who's who roster of artists who've studied or taught at the college in its 125-year history. Among the notable figures: animator Walt Disney took Saturday classes as a child; Thomas Hart Benton headed the painting department from 1935 - 1941; Robert Rauschenberg studied fashion design in 1948; and Nick Cave graduated in 1982 from the fiber department. Cave's Soundsuits will be featured at a performance this weekend.

Read more
Jazz/Blues
12:38 pm
Wed February 17, 2010

Singer/Songwriter Megan Birdsall Sings Again

Steve Kraske sits down with Megan Birdsall to discuss what it's like to work with jazz greats, her upcoming CD, and the facial reconstruction surgery that almost ended her career.

Read more
Jazz/Blues
9:11 am
Wed February 17, 2010

Ragtime Pianist Frederick Hodges

Ragtime fell out of 'style' by the 1920s but its adherents are proud of its rich history.

Read more
Music
8:40 am
Mon February 8, 2010

Century-Old Pipe Organ Inspires Unique Congregation

E.M. Skinner's Opus 190 at Grand Avenue Temple United Methodist Church
Photo by Alex Smith/KCUR.

Historic pipe organ holds special significance for the homeless members of a downtown church.

Kansas City, MO – KCUR's Alex Smith went to the Grand Avenue Temple United Methodist Church downtown to learn more about the 1912 pipe organ, and its important role at this unique church.

Read more
Music
10:48 am
Fri February 5, 2010

Chinese New Year Celebrations Begin in Kansas City

The Chinese New Year is also called the Spring Festival. And it's considered the most important traditional Chinese holiday. Families clean their houses to symbolically sweep away ill fortune and make way for good luck. Windows and doors are decorated with red to celebrate the themes of happiness, wealth and longevity.

Kansas City, MO –

Read more
Theater/Performance
3:38 pm
Thu February 4, 2010

Dancers in Pilobolus with Ties to Lawrence and Kansas City

Pilobolus Dance Theater
photo: John Kane

Pilobolus Dance Theater was founded in the early 1970s by non-dancers who met in a Dartmouth dance class. Their first gig: the opening act for a Frank Zappa concert.

Read more
Jazz/Blues
1:05 pm
Thu February 4, 2010

NEA Jazz Master Randy Weston

After contributing six decades of musical direction and genius, Randy Weston remains one of the world's foremost pianists and composers of today, a true innovator and visionary.

 

Born in Brooklyn N.Y., Randy Weston didn't have to travel far to hear early influential jazz giants like Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Art Tatum, and of course, Duke Ellington. But his greatest influence, by far, was Thelonious Monk.

Read more
Theater/Performance
12:30 pm
Thu February 4, 2010

'Broke-ology' at the Rep

An upcoming play at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre studies the art of being broke and staying alive.

Read more
Music
12:00 pm
Tue February 2, 2010

Fiddler Betse Ellis Releases New CD

Betse Ellis, the fiddle player for old-time country band The Wilder, talks about her new CD.

Read more
Jazz/Blues
12:23 pm
Mon January 25, 2010

The Little Piano Girl

Local author Ann Ingalls' new children's book introduces young readers to the legendary pianist Mary Lou Williams.

Kansas City, MO – If she were still alive this year, jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams would be 100 years old. Williams was considered by many to be the greatest female jazz instrumentalist of all times. She spent the years between 1929 and 1941 in Kansas City, and was one of the principal architects of the Kansas City swing sound.

Read more
Visual Arts
10:04 am
Fri January 15, 2010

Gift Of African Art For 75th Anniversary Of Nelson-Atkins

In honor of the 75th anniversary of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, more than 400 works of art have been promised or gifted to the museum. This includes seven pieces of African art.

Read more
Visual Arts
9:54 am
Fri January 15, 2010

WEB EXTRA: Adele Hall Talks about Personal Favorites in African Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art announced a promised gift of seven works of African art from the private collection of Adele and Donald Hall, in honor of the Museum's 75th Anniversary.

Kansas City, MO – According to Adele Hall, a personal favorite is a work she and her husband, Donald Hall, affectionately call "The King." She says, "You see the tilt of his head and the chin coming out, the strength of the pose. He is saying, 'I am king! My household is protected and this place will stay safe.'"

Read more
Music
10:32 am
Tue December 22, 2009

Night Tides Picks for Top Ten Albums of 2009

Night Tides host Renee Blanche shares her favorite contemplative instrumental & electronic music albums released in 2009.

A Note from Renee Blanche, host of Night Tides

Night Tides had another exceptional year in music from new artists who made the cut to the already established artists who continue to compose with the "wow" effect. Speaking of the "wow" effect, CD numero uno for 2009 did just that and more. Labeled the "Pan-Cultural music for a new Eon", AO Music's CD "Twirl" brought it to the table with a mighty lion's roar! Bravo AO Music!

Read more
Theater/Performance
9:19 am
Fri December 18, 2009

Kansas City Ballet Dancer Blogs about "The Nutcracker" and Retiring

Matthew Donnell, as Drosselmeyer, holding the Nutcracker at a Kansas City Ballet rehearsal.
photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

This marks dancer Matthew Donnell's 10th and last season with the Kansas City Ballet. And he's documenting it along the way in a blog. This includes writing about what's likely to be his last year in the fairy-tale ballet, "The Nutcracker."

Read more

Pages